2006 Finish: 76-86, 4th place in the NL West, 12 games back
Manager: Bob Melvin
Comings: LHP Randy Johnson, LHP Doug Davis,
Goings: C Johnny Estrada, RHP Claudio Vargas, RHP Miguel Batista
Offense: Arizona has a lot of exciting young players to watch. LF Eric Byrnes will be the veteran of the everyday players and he is only 31. 1B Connor Jackson’s first year was a productive one. He does not hit for much power but had a line of .291/.368/.441 and drove in 79 runs. SS Stephen Drew appeared in 59 games and hit .316. RF Carlos Quentin is going to be a monster. He drove in 23 in only 166 at bats. CF Chris Young will get his first extended big league action and could leadoff. 2B Orlando Hudson brings Gold Glove defense while also hitting .287, with 15 HRs and 67 RBIs. 3B Chad Tracy is the most accomplished hitter of the group and he is only 26. Last year he hit .281 with 20 HRs and 80 RBIs. The catching duties are going to be divided up between Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero. Snyder has more experience while Montero has more upside.
Rotation: The Diamondbacks have the reigning Cy Young award winner but most of the news has been about the return of the Big Unit. RHP Brandon Webb went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA on the way to the Cy Young Award. LHP Randy Johnson will be back but he is 43 years old and coming off back surgery. RHP Livan Hernandez is steady and solid and will eat up a ton of innings. Davis came over from Milwaukee where he was 11-11 last year. The fifth starter spot is up in the air with possibly RHP Micah Owings having a shot. More about him below.
Bullpen: This is an unit that is really up in the air. There are some good young power arms, just none of them have been consistent. RHP Jose Valverde will be given the first opportunity to close. He had 18 saves last year and has 51 in his career. RHP Brandon Lyon is a solid setup man. RHP Tony Pena has good stuff but has yet to put it together. RHP Jorge Julio adds a veteran presence but has been inconsistent the last couple years and could be traded. RHP Juan Cruz has super stuff, but can not find any consistency.
Justin Upton-CF-Number 9 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects. Younger brother of the Devil Ray’s B.J. Drafted as a shortstop but has been moved to the outfield. Was 18 most of last year and hit .263/.343/.413 and Class A South Bend. Took to centerfield right away showing good range while showing off his above average arm strength. Has been compared to Ken Griffey, Jr. except there are concerns about Upton’s make up and attitude.
Chris Young-CF-Number 12 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects. Penciled in to be the Diamondbacks starting CF in 2007. Hit .243/.301/.386 in his first taste of big league action, appearing in 30 games and getting 70 ABs. Has hit 73 HRs and stole 82 bases the last 3 years. Has cut down his strike out rate while keeping his power. Projects to be a 30-30 player one day. Shows great range in center and has an above average arm.
Micah Owings-RHP-Number 98 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects. Started at Double A in his first pro season and excelled, got promoted to Triple A and did even better. Was 6-2 with a 2.91 ERA at Double A and was a perfect 10-0 at Triple A, with a 3.70 ERA. His fastball sits at 88-92, but can touch 97 when needed. Great athlete who was a 2 way star at both Georgia Tech and Tulane, he has been described by some scouts as a “warrior.”
Analysis: This is a very improved team that could cause a lot of teams fits. The everyday lineup is young and will go through its share of growing pains. The rotation is solid, especially if Johnson can comeback healthy. This team will be improved but with the inexperience of the lineup and lack of quality in the bullpen, I believe this team is at least one year away from being one of the elite teams in the NL.